Triple Crown in Sight as Justify Wins Preakness   

Justify Now 5-for-5 After Preakness Stakes Win

Not rain, slop, mud or fog could keep Justify from finishing first Saturday at Pimlico, and the next hope for the American Triple Crown came through, winning the Preakness Stakes by half a length over a fast-closing and rapidly-gaining Bravazo. Tenfold was a neck back in third after closing hard in the deep stretch to catch the pace-pressing Good Magic, who finished fourth.

Justify goes wire to wire to win the Preakness Stakes

Uunrelenting rain pelted the track for much of the day, the fog rolled in during the late afternoon. But Justify took to the sloppy (sealed) track with heavy fog making visibility and viewing difficult, Justify broke to the lead and engaged in a duel outside of Good Magic. They went head-to-head down the backstretch through fractions of :23.11 and :47.19 at the half mile marker. Jockey Mike Smith gave Justify some coaxing as the pace picked up leaving the three-eighths pole, and he emerged from the fog past mid-stretch and a slim lead under solid left handed encouragement from Smith. Justify moved clear with about 70 yards to go and prevailed under steady handling as the prohibitive 2-5 race favorite.

Justify finished 1 3/16 miles over the sloppy surface in 1:55.93 and paid $2.80 to win. The $1 exacta with Bravazo returned $13.70 and a $1 trifecta paid $148.30 as Bravazo closed at 15-1 odds and Tenfold was the biggest longshot (26-1) in the field.

Mike Smith won his 2nd Preakness, and Justify trainer Bob Baffert won his record-tying 7th Preakness Stakes and is 5-for-5 in the Preakness after also winning the Kentucky Derby. Baffert is now one race closer to taking his second Triple Crown. Baffert led American Pharoah to Triple Crown victory in 2015, ending a 37-year-drought in series champions.

“It was a nail-biter,” Justify’s trainer Bob Baffert told NBC Sports. “They put it to us. It was like they had their own private match race (but I’m) so happy we got it done. Such a great horse to handle all that pressure and get it done.”

With his victory in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, Justify now aims for Triple Crown glory in the Belmont Stakes in New York on June 9.

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